Appearing at his last scheduled White House press briefing before retiring at the end of the year, Dr. Anthony Fauci reflected on his more than 50-year career in public health. “What I’d like people to remember about what I’ve done is that, every day for all of those years, I’ve given it everything I’ve got.”
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: As you all know, Dr. Fauci is retiring next month. And I’m honored– so honored– to have him join me today one last time, one more time at the podium.
– What was the most difficult moment of the pandemic response for you?
ANTHONY FAUCI: So that’s a really difficult question to answer about the most difficult, because we’ve all lived through almost three years of the most horrendous outbreak that we’ve experienced as a society in well over 100 years. But there are certain things that stand out. I mean, I could probably write an essay on all the things that were difficult time.
But one of the things, as a physician whose goal in life is to care for patients and to prevent and treat illness and ameliorate suffering, is that I remember back in my days in medical school, and when I was an intern and a resident, when a patient came in– whether or not the patient didn’t like you, was angry with you, whether it was a rich person or a poor person– you treated everybody the same because you cared about them and you wanted everyone to walk out healthy.
So when I see people in this country, because of the divisiveness in our country of not getting vaccinated– for reasons that have nothing to do with public health but to have to do because of divisiveness and ideological differences– as a physician, it pains me because I don’t want to see anybody get infected. I don’t want to see anybody hospitalized. And I don’t want to see anybody die from COVID. Whether you’re a far-right Republican or a far-left Democrat doesn’t make any difference to me. I look upon it the same way as I did in the emergency room in the middle of New York City when I was taking care of everybody that was coming in off the street. So that’s the thing that troubles me most about this.
– You became a household name in large part because of your appearances here at the early stages of COVID. What do you want Americans to remember about your service in government?
ANTHONY FAUCI: Well, I think what I’ve accomplished in my 54 years at the NIH and my 38 years as the director of NIAID, although COVID is really, really, very important, It is a fragment of the total 40 years that I’ve been doing it. So I’ll let other people judge the value or not of my accomplishments.
But what I would like people to remember about what I’ve done is that every day for all of those years, I’ve given it everything that I have and I’ve never left anything on the field. So if they want to remember me, whether they judge rightly or wrongly what I’ve done, I gave it all I got for many decades.